England: Dull display leaves crowd cold

England face the cameras before last night's game against Norway at Wembley
England face the cameras before last night's game against Norway at Wembley
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Captain Wayne Rooney admitted that England “could have done better” after they narrowly edged out Norway at Wembley.

The 28-year-old scored the only goal of last night’s friendly, which saw former Barnsley defender John Stones make his full international debut, from the penalty spot after 69 minutes of largely uninspiring action.

“I thought I could have done better,” Rooney said. “We all could have done better.

“We moved the ball quite well but they made it difficult for us, sat back and created a few opportunities in the first half. In the second half we started really sloppy and that was disappointing as we wanted to go out and take the game to them.”

With Roy Hodgson’s squad set to begin its Euro 2016 qualifying campaign against Switzerland on Monday, Rooney added: “We got the win in the end and that was the most important thing.”

Just 40,181 descended upon the national stadium to witness England toil against Per-Mathias Høgmo’s side. Six of the last seven Johnstone’s Paint Trophy finals have been better attended.

That sent a clear message following England’s disappointing World Cup tournament in Brazil and the tepid nature of yesterday’s contest will have done little to lift the gloom hanging over Hodgson’s men.

Indeed, only after Rooney’s 69th minute effort did they establish any sort of rhythm or pose a serious threat.

But Hodgson knows he will need too see an improvement in Basel next week where Gary Cahill, the former Sheffield United loanee, faces a race against time to be fit after injuring an ankle. The Chelsea centre-half was replaced during the closing stages by Phil Jagielka, who progressed through the ranks at Bramall Lane before joining Everton where he now works alongside Stones.

A poor free-kick from Leighton Baines, after Per Ciljan Skjelbred had felled Jack Wilshere, set the tone for a miserable opening period which ended with goalkeeper Joe Hart nearly spilling the Hertha Berlin midfielder’s centre into his own net. However, England were thrown a lifeline when Omar Elabdellaoui slid in late on Sterling which allowed Rooney to convert.

Fabian Delph and Calum Chambers won their first caps while those members of the crowd who still remained greeted the final whistle with barely audible cheers.

There was more disappointing news when Hodgson confirmed that Jack Colback, the Newcastle youngster, will miss the visit to Switzerland after being diagnosed with a damaged calf muscle.

“Jack has had to leave us,” Hodgson said. “We were hoping he would train with us, but he can’t do that, so it’s better to send him back.”